Disaster Aid Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 - The Senate late this afternoon advanced a $7 billion aid package for victims of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Irene.

The vote was 61 to 38 to bring up a bill to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency's depleted disaster fund. Sixty votes were needed to advance the measure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) spoke on the Senate floor before the vote.

"Vermont communities stick together in hard times, and it has been absolutely amazing to see the volunteer efforts taking place from one end of the state to the other. We're seeing that in almost every area, strangers coming to help people whose homes and businesses were flooded," Sanders said.

"But the simple fact is that Vermont cannot do it alone, nor can any other state hard hit by disaster. The scale of what Hurricane Irene did is overwhelming        for a state of our size. The federal government has an important role to play in disaster relief and recovery."

The vote sets the stage for passage of the bill later this week.